Ahhh! The Foodies Festival. One of my favourite annual Bristol events, which gives you the opportunity to sample food and (if you’re anything like me, lots of drink) from various passionate vendors and is a sure sign that summer is coming.
For those unfamiliar with the festival, ‘Foodies’ travels up and down the UK between April – September and promotes both local and national food and drink vendors. If you have missed the Bristol stop then upcoming dates at other UK locations can be found here.
So why do I return every year?
As opposed to some festivals that concentrate on a specific spirit and or diets (vegan, gluten free etc.) Foodies encompasses all tasty treats. So, whether you’re only looking to sample healthy organic produce, try the latest hipster food trend (out of a van of course) or you’re perusing new culinary staples to stock your cupboards with, there is something for everyone. Yes, there is an element of larger household names, Pimms, Captain Morgans, Yeo Valley etc., luring you in with flashy stalls and installations but there is also the opportunity to venture further than the first 20ft of the festival and find some hidden gems. There is also the opportunity to watch some of your favourite celebrity chefs and take part in food and wine tastings across the day.
I was particularly taken aback by a small stall selling ‘Kung Fu pancakes’; the stand was very minimal, in fact I’m not sure it even it had a name board just a chalk board with a simple menu and price list. They offered only 2 things: duck pancake or egg pancake. This simple menu was one of the reasons I made this stall my first stop as I’m always suspicious of restaurants who offer lengthy menus of various cuisine. A paired back offering certainly worked for these guys as shortly after I got my delicious wrap there was a constant queue of around 15 people throughout the day. All the pancakes were made in front of you though and because they were pancakes the queue moved rather quickly. For dessert, my other half went for nitrogen ice cream from Whipsmiths. This was rather gimmicky and not necessarily how I would want my ice-cream but it was nice to sample and they offered a huge range of flavour combinations which is mixed before your eyes, plus the dry ice makes you feel like you’re in an 80s-music video. Obviously, my tastings were just a small sample of the food on offer. There were many more stalls I wanted to try had I been blessed with a bottomless stomach.
(Just realised how beige everything I ate was!!)
Now we’re talking. So, between Dan and I, I reckon we sampled the equivalent of 4 small glasses of wine and 2 double measures of spirits…. for free (gosh I love that word). All stalls selling drinks either by the bottle or by the glass will give you a free taste so don’t be shy to ask because they are expecting it. Not only does this give you a little freebie, it really does help you choose where to spend your money. I’d been pondering on which gin brand I wanted to add to our collection and at the festival I was able to taste 2-3 which I was considering. You can’t do that in Asda, or even Waitrose come to think of it. The gin I went for was Caorunn (pronounced Ka-Roon), this is a mainstream gin so I could have got it at a good supermarket or wine shop but we had the opportunity to sample the gin in various cocktail samples as well as getting a ‘free’ G&T with purchase so I’m not complaining. The price per bottle was also £2 cheaper that the best price I’ve seen online. In fact, with any bottle purchases at the festival £2 seems to be the average price reduction.
As well as spirits, the festival’s wine game is strong and I am seriously considering making a future purchase from (When in Rome wine) which offers Italian boxed wine (each box contains 3 bottles of wine and costs £26.00, it was £24.00 at the festival). I would usually shudder at the thought of boxed wine but this was delicious; I can’t speak for the white but the (Nero d’Avola) was divine and would be perfect for ordering at Christmas.
Looking a little closer to home, I came across Bettys Bubbly, a pink prosecco van which was designed specifically for events. Not only does it look stunning, the Prosecco on tap (it contains 160 glasses worth) was perfect on a balmy afternoon. I will be looking at this to hire for future events and would recommend to those who have the option of providing their own caterers at their wedding venue.
The workshops and ‘chef’s theatre’
Each day there is a programme of workshops, tasting and cookery demos by celebrity chefs (This year Candice Brown from GBBO was particularly popular with the Bristol crowd). These satellite events work on a first come first served basis by registering yourself at the registration tent. I have only ever been lucky enough to get into 1 workshop and 1 cookery demo in four years (this year I just went for the food and drink). I feel this is the one aspect where the event lets itself down. If you want to get on a workshop (especially a wine/prosecco tasting) you need to be at the festival doors prior to opening and make your way directly to the registration tent. Do not pass go, do not collect £100, just hot foot it to that tent. Every time I have arrived in the afternoon everything worth trying has already been booked out. I feel a better way would be to put all the events online or via event bright and have people pay s 50p booking fee (if needed) to select the workshop/s they would like to attend. They can always give away no shows on the day. There is probably a reason as to why they don’t do it this way but as a regular attendee it would be nice to have more opportunity to experience these popular events.
I paid £20 for 2 adults, 3 day tickets, which meant we could have gone to the festival on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I got these from Groupon about 6 weeks before the event. The website price is £20 per adult 3-day ticket but they have so many discount codes floating around social media that anyone would struggle to pay this full price. I think this is a really good price for the event and the 3-day ticket give you a chance to come back or re-schedule your visit if other life events get in the way.
Well, overall I clearly rate this as an event, I go every year and can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I admit the event admin for workshops and tasting could be better but then again maybe I should just get up earlier.
Event rating 4/5